football Edit

Farrell 50: Counting down the nation's top 50 players

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

With the college football season nearly upon us, it’s time for another installment of the Farrell 50, the top 50 college football players in the country. We take a quick look at how each ranked out of high school and if they are exceeding or simply living up to expectations. Today we move on to Nos. 31-35 led by one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

FARRELL 50: Nos. 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50


The skinny: Jones initially made a commitment to Oklahoma State after also considering USC, Notre Dame, Baylor and Oregon. However, despite the commitment, he continued to look at other schools, which eventually led to his de-commitment during his senior season. He took official visits to both USC and Notre Dame, and Jones committed to the Trojans at the Under Armour All-America Game. After totaling 2,069 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons, everyone is expecting Jones to take his game to the next level this fall.

Farrell’s take: Jones was a speedster and was awesome on film, was impressive at the Under Armour Game and is off to an amazing start in college. Running backs and linebackers are the hardest to evaluate in camp settings without pads, so Jones was never penalized in our rankings for not having as much of an impact as expected and it’s a good thing for us. His film and Under Armour week kept him in the Rivals100 and as one of the top backs in the country. He was disappointing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but that was the only blip on the radar during his evaluation and his speed always stood out.

The skinny: Harrison originally committed to North Carolina after his sophomore season, but after earning an offer from the Crimson Tide at an Alabama camp, he flipped a couple of weeks later. He did take official visits to Georgia and Notre Dame during his senior season, but never seriously wavered from the Tide. After showing his potential as a true freshman, Harrison blew up last fall with 83 tackles, which was second on the team, and two interceptions.

Farrell’s take: Harrison was a tall and filled-out safety prospect who could also play corner and had very good ball skills. He wasn’t a burner on the field, which is what held him back from being a Rivals100 prospect, but he had good hips, excellent instincts and he could catch anything. When Nick Saban covets you as a defensive back, and he wanted Harrison, then you know you’re likely looking at a playmaker, and Harrison was perhaps a bit undervalued.

The skinny: While Clemson was seen as the leader for a couple of months, the Tigers received a major challenge from both South Carolina and Virginia Tech before Ferrell committed in June. Ferrell did not play his senior season due to a torn ACL, which eventually led to him redshirting in 2015. Fully healthy last season, Ferrell totaled 44 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Now even more will be expected out of him as he returns as one of the veterans on a talented line.

Farrell’s take: Many feel that this is Ferrell’s breakout season at Clemson, and it’s hard to doubt based on his physical ability and the amazing coaching Clemson's defensive players get. I always liked his athletic upside, although he was a bit stiff at times, but I questioned his aggressiveness, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to such a key role this season. He’s a high character kid and was almost too nice on the field, but last season he showed a lot of what was missing in high school.

The skinny: Hurts named a top four of Alabama, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Florida before committing to the Crimson Tide less than a week later. Hurts then surprised many by beating out both Blake Barnett and Cooper Bateman last summer for the starting job. On top of that, he performed like a veteran throughout a majority of the season, passing for 2,780 yards and rushing for 954 yards while leading Alabama to the national championship game.

Farrell’s take: Hurts was always known for a big arm, but his touch wasn’t consistent. However, he was the kind of kid who seemed very relaxed on and off the field and never shrunk from the moment. Hurts was smart with the football and his accuracy improved greatly between his junior and senior seasons. I certainly didn’t see him heading to Alabama and taking the starting job in game one, however, and he should only get better as he gets more comfortable in the pocket. Teams will scheme differently for him this season, so he will need to adjust to that. A true freshman leading his team to a national title game shows Hurts' maturity.

The skinny: Brown was initially a Tennessee commitment and stayed that way for months, however he stunned many with a flip to Oklahoma on National Signing Day. This happened despite taking an official visit to Knoxville a few days before and never taking one to Norman prior to his flip. After redshirting in 2014, Brown has started each of the last 26 games for the Sooners at left tackle and only gave up one sack last season.

Farrell’s take: Brown was a massive kid out of high school with great bloodlines (dad was Orlando “Zeus” Brown, who played 11 seasons in the NFL) but lacked the footwork and discipline to be rated higher than a high three-star. If you told me back then that he’d become an All-American offensive lineman and one of the best in the country, I would have told you that you’re crazy. He’s done a great job putting in the work and making himself better, and deserves all the accolades he’s receiving.